English is a West Germanic language that arose in England and south-eastern Scotland in the time of the Anglo-Saxons. Following the economic, political, military, scientific, cultural, and colonial influence of Great Britain and the United Kingdom from the 18th century, and of the United States since the mid 20th century, it has been widely dispersed around the world, become the leading language of international discourse, and has acquired use as lingua franca in many regions. It is widely learned as a second language and used as an official language of the European Union and many Commonwealth countries, as well as in many world organizations. It is the third most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
Historically, English originated from several dialects, now collectively termed Old English, which were brought to the eastern coast of the island of Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers beginning in the 5th century. English was further influenced by the Old Norse language of Viking invaders.
After the time of the Norman conquest, Old English developed into Middle English, borrowing heavily from the Norman-French vocabulary and spelling conventions. The etymology of the word "English" is a derivation from the 12th century Old English englisc from Engle, "[the] Angles".
Modern English developed with the Great Vowel Shift that began in 15th-century England, and continues to adopt foreign words from a variety of languages, as well as coining new words. A significant number of English words, especially technical words, have been constructed based on roots from Latin and Greek.